Protecting your pet from canine distemper

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - There have been reports of raccoons turning up with distemper recently in the Hattiesburg and Petal areas.

Though not dangerous to humans, distemper can harm your pets. Distemper is a highly contagious respiratory virus that has no cure and can often result in death. It mostly affects dogs and certain species of wildlife such as raccoons, wolves, foxes, and skunks. Unvaccinated young dogs under the age of two are most susceptible to catching the virus.

Doctor Paul Calhoun from the Animal Medical Clinic in Hattiesburg says the virus attacks the nervous system and causes the animal to have seizures. He added that the only way to protect your pet from the virus is by having it vaccinated.

"It's highly contagious and needs to be vaccinated for at a very young age,"said Calhoun. "The treatment for the virus is not very good for them as a cure. We can treat them with supportive medicines, but not something that's going to cure them of the virus."

Doctor Calhoun recommends four vaccinations with the first coming at six weeks with three more in two to three week intervals.

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